Miss America Shares a Story With Children of Incarcerated Parents

I’m so very proud of the new Miss America, Laura Kaeppeler. First, because she is from my hometown of Kenosha, Wis., and second, because she’s used her own experience to help a lot of hurting kids. If you don’t know Ms. Kaeppeler’s story, it begins when her father, Jeff, was arrested when she was a 14-year-old high-schooler. He went to trial and was sent to serve 18 months in federal prison for mail fraud when she was at Carthage College studying music. This impacted Laura’s life, much like the other estimated 10 million children who will experience having a parent imprisoned.

School Crime Data Reveals Safety Concerns for Georgia Children

A new report on school crime and safety shows that students and teachers still have serious concerns in Georgia and across the nation. The Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics compiled data from 2008 – 2009 to give us a snapshot of what’s going on in public high schools across the state:

8.2% of Georgia students said they were threatened or injured with a weapon at school
4.2% admitted they carried a weapon to school during the month prior to the survey
11.7% were involved in a physical fight on school grounds
32.9% said drugs were available to them on school property
4.2% admitted using alcohol on school grounds
7,000 teachers (5.8%) said they were threatened with injury by a student
4,900 teachers (4%) said they were physically attacked by a student
35.2% of teachers said student misbehavior interfered with their teaching

The national snapshot is somewhat different, since the surveys included different age groups.  A startling number of children – 1.2 million – were victims of crime at school.  They reported 619,000 thefts and 743,100 violent crimes and assaults.  (Students surveyed in 2008 were 12-18 years old)  Here are some other surprising numbers:

15 homicides and 7 suicides of children at school during the 2008-2009 school year
8% of students were threatened with a weapon at school
20% of schools reported gang activity
32% of students said they were bullied in 2007

New Project Studies Kids Transferred to Adult Court

A new study is underway that focuses on a group of kids we don’t know much about: kids who are arrested and transferred from juvenile court to adult criminal court. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has awarded a grant of $500,000 to Westat Inc., a research organization, to conduct the Survey of Juveniles Charged in Adult Criminal Courts. According to Youth Today, Westat will partner with the National Center for Juvenile Justice to survey states on the number of kids transferred, their demographics and the charges they faced. This may be hard because each state’s juvenile justice system is different and some states do not have data related to kids transferred into adult court.

Sex Abuse in Detention: Numbers are Low, But Still Troubling

The FBI did some extensive research on sexual victimization in juvenile facilities across the country and found that violent sex assaults are relatively rare, but the numbers are still disturbing. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) published Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth, 2008-2009. The report found that out of about 26,000 kids in both state and privately run facilities, 12.2% (3,220) said they experienced sexual violence. Here’s a breakdown:

Youth-on-youth sex abuse incidents: 2.6%. Youth-on-youth incidents involving force: 2%
Staff-on-youth sex abuse incidents: 10.3%
Staff-on-youth incidents involving force: 4.3%

And here’s a surprising find: Facilities that housed only girls had the highest rates of youth-on-youth sex abuse (11%), while detention centers that housed only boys had the highest rates of sexual misconduct involving staff (11.3%).